Why do Israeli drivers, pedestrians have right-of-way at the same time?

We challenge the new government to pass a law – in memory of the many casualties on Israel’s roads – to put a stop to the extremely dangerous “double green light” situation.

 Naomi Nathan (photo credit: NATHAN FAMILY)
Naomi Nathan
(photo credit: NATHAN FAMILY)
Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)

Naomi Nathan, 60, a beloved wife, mother of four and grandmother of four, died in a traffic accident in Ra’anana on September 20, just days before Rosh Hashanah. Although police are still investigating the circumstances, a witness saw her being run over at a pedestrian crossing by a bus turning into its lane while she was walking home from work. It appears that the traffic light was green for both her and the bus.

One question raised by Naomi Nathan’s tragic death is this: Why is it that throughout Israel, pedestrians and drivers often have a green light at the same time? Consider this confusing instruction from the Sixt car-rental company to motorists in Israel: “You may need to look out for pedestrians in some intersections, as they may also have the green light to walk, but you should be alert for pedestrians anyway whenever you’re driving.”

“You may need to look out for pedestrians in some intersections, as they may also have the green light to walk, but you should be alert for pedestrians anyway whenever you’re driving.”

Sixt

Naomi, a very modest person, would have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of friends, family and colleagues who attended her huge funeral in Ra’anana the next day. Rabbi Eitan Ben-David; her husband, Mickey; her four sons; and one of her three daughters-in-law spoke with enormous love, mixed with disbelief and grief, about a true woman of valor, whose greatest joy was in carrying out acts of loving kindness for those around her and even complete strangers. 

Committed Zionists, Naomi and Mickey Nathan left their comfort zone in South Africa 25 years ago to make aliyah with their young sons. Naomi had been passionate about her career as an Afrikaans teacher at the King David Jewish day school in Johannesburg. After they moved to Ra’anana, she thoroughly enjoyed her job with Eric Cohen Books, Israel’s top publisher of English Language Teaching (ELT) materials.

 Scene of traffic accident in Jerusalem, October 26, 2022 (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏) Scene of traffic accident in Jerusalem, October 26, 2022 (credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)

Mickey and Naomi had a great partnership, working hard together to build their home in the Jewish homeland and raising four exceptional sons. The Nathan family became an integral part of the close-knit community at the Shivtei Yisrael synagogue, whose members support one another in every way they can. Naomi will always be remembered by her family and friends as a loving, caring person who took delight in hosting them, especially on Shabbat.

Here is what her son Raphi, a popular DJ, said in his eulogy:

Ma, you accepted every person as they were. In your house, everyone was welcome. Everyone was a son or a daughter to you. Your hospitality was so unbelievable, and I promise I will continue that legacy of yours. You were the most vibrant person, full of life, incredible energy, forgiving, loving, patient, and happy with what you had in life. 

May Naomi Nathan’s life and memory be both a blessing and a comfort to her family! 

Simultaneous green lights for drivers and pedestrians result in deaths in Israel

A month after Naomi’s death, nine-year-old Yoel Dovid Lenau, whose parents were Chabad emissaries in Ukraine and fled to Israel following the Russian invasion, was killed on October 26 when he was hit by a concrete-mixer truck while walking with his sister across an intersection in Jerusalem’s Romema neighborhood. The police said an initial investigation revealed that the driver had turned right on a green light and struck the boy, who also had a green light.

We have just witnessed Israel’s fifth election in less than four years, after another political campaign by candidates skirting substantive policy issues such as road safety. According to Avi Naor, who heads Israel’s National Road Safety Authority, the last time the government launched a road safety program was in 2005

This is a time for meaningful change. From November 1, turning on headlights on interurban roads during the day is mandatory in Israel. We challenge the new government to pass a law – in memory of Naomi Nathan, Yoel Dovid Lenau, and the many casualties on the country’s roads – to put a stop to the extremely dangerous “double green light” situation.